Thursday, October 08, 2015

the inner nag / task switching

Part 1: Written ~10 days ago
Yesterday, I arrived home from work with 3 "open charts."  For the non-medical crowd, these charts are virtual these days -- since our records are electronic.  (NOTE:  while the systems are imperfect, this is one area where I do not bemoan the loss of paper one bit!)

It was rainy and I pulled in right at 6pm.  I had a finite slice of time with A&C -- Cameron's bedtime is still around 7:15, and Annabel usually follows between 8 and 8:30.  We played and ran around and it was nice, but my mind kept circling back to 3 charts, 3 charts, 3 charts.  A relentless drone attempting to ruin my tiny chunk of family time.  Interspersed with the chart chorus were a few other stern reminders: PCOS presentaton; respond to email; renew DEA number.

I ended up finishing the 3 charts while A watched an episode of Angelina Ballerina.  Of note, she typically watches a show (part or whole) each night while I put C to bed, because otherwise he doesn't get any one-on-one time with me.  I use Angelina to distract her while I read him stories and tuck him in, and it works.  Given that the show is an hour, yesterday I was also able to finish the 3 charts.  YAY.

But ugh.  Those annoying, distracting thoughts!  Why did they have to dominate the evening?  And this is just an example.  I want to be fully present with A&C during kid-time.  I want to get into the flow of work while I'm seeing patients and writing notes.  I really try to avoid multitasking and constant task switching to the extent possible, but I cannot block these constant thought intrusions.  While writing up a consult, I might all of the sudden realize that OMG I NEED A BABYSITTER FOR OCTOBER 17th or I NEED TO ORDER MORE DISHWASHER PODS ASAP.  I suppose one technique could be writing these sorts of things down (and getting back to the task at hand), but I'd rather prevent them from popping up in the first place.

Potential strategies:
writing it all down (sort of bullet journal/getting things done approach)

Just kidding on that last one.  (I think.)

Part 2: Progress
One weekend away, 8 days straight of meditation (for 5-10 minutes each!), significantly less screen/phone time, and careful attention to what is actually going on my to-do list for each day -- and I'm actually doing a lot better with this.  I am not sure what the magic component has been, but I cannot tell you how much a) more pleasant and b) more productive life has felt when I am not constantly pulled in 27 different directions by my own jumbled nervous system.  I think the keys have been:

* the meditation.  Seriously, somehow having this little grounding session in the morning does seem to do . . . something.

* spending ~5 minutes each morning to physically write out a template for each day in my planner, including separate work and home to-dos.  I will demonstrate my new layout in a future post!

* taking any distracting thoughts/random task-based stressors and  -- instead of ruminating -- just accepting them,  writing them down, either in today's space or on my weekly page.

* getting up early enough so that the mornings are not rushed and I can get through the above planning process

* reminding myself several times a day of my goal to stay present in each moment (sounds cheesy, but it is necessary)

* keeping my phone out of reach upon arriving home from work

* staying OFF of Facebook entirely

I am sure I have not discovered the secret to no distraction anymore, ever! -- but things really do seem to have improved, both at work and at home.  In the past week, I have finished the 2014 photobook (YES!), completed a draft of a work presentation (and presented it) and have stuck with my planned runs/barre sessions.  And it has actually felt good, not stressful.

Hopefully the trend will continue . . .